June 11, 2014—In the past two weeks, both the House and Senate have taken action on appropriations and authorizations bills of critical importance to higher education, including Energy and Water Development; Labor-HHS-Education; Commerce-Justice-Science, and NASA.
A bipartisan coalition is pushing to allow all veterans to receive in-state tution. In addition, APLU joined several associations in sending letters on student loans and gainful employment. Also, APLU’s Office of Congressional Affairs is seeking a fall intern.
Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee released the FY15 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. This legislation provides $5.071 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and $280 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) at the DOE. To view a chart of funding levels from previous years and APLU’s FY15 Appropriations requests, please click here.
The Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee passed the FY15 L-HHS-E Appropriations bill. A summary of the bill is available on the Subcommittee website. The text of the bill will be available after the full Senate Appropriations Committee Markup. Of note:
Pell Grants—The Committee bill maintains the discretionary portion of the maximum Pell grant award level at $4,860 for the 2015-2016 school year. Combined with mandatory funding, the total maximum award is estimated to increase by $100 to $5,830.
Campus-Based Student Aid—The Committee bill includes a combined increase of $50,000,000 for the Federal Work Study (increase of $35 million) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs (increase of $15 million) to help increase access to postsecondary education for low-income students.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Committee bill provides $30,459,181,000, an increase of $605,668,000, to fund biomedical research at the 27 Institutes and Centers that comprise NIH. This level is sufficient, when combined with the $1,000,000,000 increase appropriated in FY 2014, to fully replace the FY 2013 sequester cut to NIH. Further, this level will allow NIH to allocate $100,000,000 for the second year of the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, an increase of $60,000,000.
The Full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY15 CJS Appropriations bill by a unanimous vote. The bill now heads to full Senate. Of note, this bill funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.255 billion. At the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the legislation funds the Science Mission Directorate at $5.2 billion and the Aeronautics Research Directorate at about $551 million. Within the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the bill funds Oceanic and Atmospheric Research programs at $430 million.
A summary of the bill and Chairwoman Mikulski’s opening remarks are available on the Senate Appropriations Committee website. You can also visit this webpage to view the full table of APLU priorities and how they compare to the FY15 CJS numbers as passed by the full House of Representatives and Senate Appropriations Committee.
The House of Representatives passed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2014 (H.R.4412) by a vote of 401-2. This legislation authorizes $17.646 billion for FY14, which is already underway. The bill authorizes $5.151 billion for science programs, of which $1.826 billion is designated for earth science programs. These funding levels are consistent with the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This legislation also prohibits funding for the Asteroid Redirect Mission until NASA completes a detailed report. To read more from the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, please click here.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (D-VA) as well as Committee Ranking Member Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and several other Senators introduced, S. 2450, Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act, last night. While the bill is aimed at improving veterans’ access to health care and addressing serious problems facing the Department of Veterans Affairs, it also includes a section (Sec. 702) requiring public institutions to charge in-state tuition for veterans, for a period of three years post-discharge, and for certain eligible dependents in order for that institution to remain eligible for Post-9/11 GI and Montgomery GI bill benefits. The Senate is likely to vote on this bill, which will be merged into another bill, this evening.
APLU joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and several other higher education associations in sending a letter of support for S. 2432, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. The bill would allow borrowers with existing loans to benefit from lower rates available to new borrowers in the direct student loan program.
APLU joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and several other higher education associations in submitting a letter this week to the Department of Education on their proposed gainful employment rules, which were announced in the March 25 Federal Register. The letter states that the associations strongly share the department’s goal of protecting students and better serving taxpayers, but the proposed gainful employment regulations need to be both modified and strengthened.
APLU President Peter McPherson issued a statement regarding the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s passage of the Frontiers in Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act. Two months ago, McPherson wrote to the committee’s chairman, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), urging him to strengthen the bill to better meet the country’s scientific research needs, ensure long-term economic growth, and close the innovation deficit.
The APLU Office of Congressional and Governmental Affairs (CGA) is seeking interns for fall 2014. As CGA members know, the Congressional and Governmental Affairs department is focused on representing public university interests before Congress and the Executive Branch on topics ranging from student financial aid and scientific research, to tax policy and appropriations, to energy policy and international development. We particularly encourage students seeking internships as part of a formal academic program at their school. Further information on the internship can be found here. We would appreciate CGA sharing this with any of your campuses DC based internship programs or interested students.
Interested students or those with questions should contact Kari McCarron at email@example.com.